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Twin Tigers II: Shadow over Bangkok

Thunder King

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Twin motorcycles sped through the warm Bangkok night, Crimson Tiger followed her cousin, Black Tiger, who obviously had a goal in mind, even if she didn't know.

“What sort of training have you done? Can you sneak?â€

“Yes, I'm pretty good at it.†She said.

“Good, I won't bother to question your fighting skills. Anyone who can defeat Anuman is more than good enough for what I need.â€

“Why, what is it you need?†She asked, wondering if he'd planned to bring her along the moment he heard they were flying in for the funeral.

“Opium house, lots of addicts. There's a dealer and a few thugs in there. I want to find out where he gets his stuff. If you're okay with it, I want you to take out the thugs so I can personally confront the dealer and interrogate him.â€

That sounded simple enough, and was well within her abilities. Still, she had questions.

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“Are they going to be armed?†She asked, clearly not afraid, just concerned.

“Probably, yes.†He answered, bluntly.

“With what?â€

“Pistols and automatic weapons. Probably of Chinese or Russian origins. May see an AK47, may not. Lots of those weapons floating around the black market. Thugs are enforcers, used to using fists, not trained in firearms well.†He answered. She had no idea how he knew any of that, but suspected he'd been investigating this ring for quite some time.

“So, did you decide to take them out when you heard I was coming to town?†She asked.

“Yes, sorry about that. It's unfair, I know, but I've been trying to figure out a way to dismantle this opium ring for months. When I heard you were coming in to town, I figured I might recruit you. Deliberately started my motorcycle and revved it until you woke up. I know Crimson Tiger rides a motorcycle, I assumed you'd get curious.â€

“It's okay, I'd have gone along with it even if you'd brought it up to me as soon as I got to.â€

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“Wanted to gauge you, determine what kind of person you were. I also couldn't be absolutely certain in my deduction. Whether or not you were the one who eventually defeated Anuman wasn't a certainty. I couldn't risk my secret identity.â€

She didn't even have to answer back, he was right. Bangkok was, by all accounts, a city riddled with crime. That level of paranoia was somewhat rare in Freedom City, but absolutely essential in Bangkok. If anyone found out he was Black Tiger, his entire family would be dead before dawn of the next day.

“Everyone assumed Anuman was Black Tiger.†He said, suddenly. “Apparently, the criminals assumed his actions were a cover for his opium ring. Black Tiger never took down the opium ring himself, he could eliminate the competition with impunity as Black Tiger. I want to remind the scum of Bangkok that Anuman is in prison, but Black Tiger remains.â€

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It all made sense, suddenly. Of course Anuman would cultivate that possibility. He shared the same name as the man who fought crime years ago. With Black Tiger operating in the city alongside a feared criminal overlord, and the fact that Anuman's belongings were never attacked directly. It would lead to some of his underlings and associates assuming he was using the identity to take out competition and trim anyone weak from his organization. The mere thought made Crimson Tiger angry.

“I never went after Anuman's organization because it was too big, I poked at his associates weakly, but couldn't muster the strength to take the core down. After Anuman was imprisoned, they did it for me. Infighting and blame flew, people died. Someone tried to control the organization, but they failed and it dissolved under it's own weight.â€

So that's what happened. Mali was relieved that at least one group of opium suppliers was taken down, even though it was still an epidemic in Bangkok and much of Asia. Perhaps not as bad as it had been when her great grandfather put on the mask, but it was still a major problem. That, and it's more purified form, heroin.

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They parked their bikes in a secluded alleyway a few hundred feet away from the opium dealer's base of operations. It was a squat, featureless brick building, with a door on top of the roof. Black Tiger pointed at the roof. “You go up there, kick the door in, make your way downstairs. I'll go in the back door. Our target should be in one of the back rooms, guarded. Ignore any addict that doesn't get up. There's a tool kit in the bike.â€

She nodded and popped open one of the storage containers, revealing a small toolkit and a grappling hook. Black Tiger waited by the door, and gave the signal. She threw the grappling hook and latched it to the roof, clamoring up quickly.

“Go.†He said through the radio. She delivered a fierce kick to the door, which collapsed instantaneously. She stalked down the stairs, careful not to make a sound. She heard nothing, and assumed nobody had heard her kick the door in. That was a good thing, considering their guns.

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As soon as she was down the stairs, she found herself standing across from a maintenance room. She opened the door, stepped inside, and spotted a circuit breaker.

“Found a circuit breaker.†She whispered into the mouthpiece. “What should I do?â€

“Can you fight in the dark?â€He asked. “Because I have night vision goggles.â€

“Like it's broad daylight.†She whispered back, pulling the main breaker down.

Ah, there was the noise she was waiting for.

“Stupid outtages, I'm going to go check the breakers.†A voice shouted in Thai. This was perfect. She stood by the door, quietly waiting for the man to open it. As soon as the door opened, she grabbed the first thing that appeared through it, an assault rifle.

She yanked the assault rifle out of the shocked man's hands and struck him in the abdomen with the butt of the rifle before elbowing him in the back of the head. She grabbed him by the back of the shirt and pulled him into the room. With deft hands, she disassembled the rifle. From the toolkit, she fetched a pair of zip ties and bound his arms before ripping part of his shirt off and making a gag out of it.

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Meanwhile, Black Tiger took advantage of the sudden power outtage and made his way into the back entrance. Two men stared at the doorway, the only light in the room back-lighting an intimidating, muscular figure. Their hesitance was his victory, as he delivered a snap kick to the side of one head and an elbow to the other, knocking both men out cold before they could so much as grunt. Within moments, both men were bound.

He stalked into the hallway, seeking more people to take out. The more they dealt with, the fewer threats there were in the building. Take out everyone they can before he approaches the target. He wondered, however, how Crimson Tiger was handling herself. No gunfire, no sound. Clearly meant she was doing fine on her own.

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Crimson Tiger slowly made her way around the corner, her eyes adjusting to the dark. Two more of the thugs stood near the hallway, facing away from her. She ran forward, heedless that they might hear her, and leaped into the air above. They turned around at the sound of footsteps, but too late. They didn't even look up as her knees slammed into their foreheads, sending them both backwards, heads knocking against the floor.

She saw them, the addicts. They were strewn about the room, in various states of consciousness. How someone could sacrifice their lives for such a thing brought disgust and pity to her mind. She knew these people made that choice, but that heroin and opium were difficult habits to break. The dealers and distributors were nothing but parasites, preying on the weak minded and weak willed. Giving them drugs to waste their lives with while they lived on others' misery.

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It wasn't an especially large room, maybe the size of a high school classroom. Furniture was scattered around, ratty and decayed from use and abuse. She shuddered at the thought of being so out of it as to simply accept sitting or laying on the soiled, lice infested couches and chairs.

She spotted two other hallways, one guarded, the other not. Her eyes scanned the roof. There, she spotted an exposed pipe. Using momentum and speed, she ran up the wall a short distance, grasping the pipe and wrapping her body around it. Slowly, inch by inch, she made her way towards the two men who, even now, were having a conversation, seemingly oblivious to the notion that anything was wrong.

She let her legs hang before dropping silently behind them. One of the men turned around, and looked like he was about to speak. Crimson Tiger's fist lashed out and struck him in the midsection, turning the warning into a mere grunt as he collapsed.

The other man turned around, but she slammed her fist into his face the moment he did so, sending him falling back. She couldn't hope to clean up this many unconscious people, so it was time to move fast.

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Black Tiger, however, had already started doing so. He entered what seemed like a kitchen and grabbed a few of the knives off of the counter, not taking the time to slow down. He heard a shout, someone knew he was there.

He turned the corner to see a man raise his rifle to fire, but Black Tiger was quicker. One of the knives soared through the air, scratching his hand and causing him to drop the gun. Not slowing down, Black Tiger slid into the man's leg, shattering it and causing him to collapse. The man screamed in pain before Black Tiger could stop him. He was certain that they'd hear that. Ah, well, the stealthy approach had worked for a while, and even a highly trained team of mercenaries would have trouble responding in time to become a dire threat. These guys would be lucky to muster the strength to defend against a blind man, it seemed.

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Crimson Tiger heard the scream and uttered a Thai curse. This was not good, all cover was dropped. The scream was too high pitched to be Black Tiger's, so he must have slipped up a bit. She bolted down the hallway, spotting Black Tiger running from the other direction.

“What happened?†She asked.

“Broke a leg, the man screamed.†Crimson Tiger nodded. “Cover's blown, might as well make do.†He said. She spotted the knives in his hand and assumed he must have grabbed them from a kitchen, or maybe one of the hired guns. Since thrown knives were a fairly common superhero weapon, and her own chakram was hardly dull, she didn't doubt that her cousin intended to use them nonlethally. After all, there are wounds a person can survive that still really, really hurt. Look at paper cuts.

She assumed that they would meet with considerably more resistance, now. That was fine with her, they had the advantage anyway.

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As they turned the corner, they spotted four armed men, assault rifles pointed in their direction. As they opened fire, Black Tiger dove in one direction, Crimson Tiger the other.

Gunfire roared down the hall as they took cover. Crimson Tiger covered her ears. She'd heard gunfire before, but never this many at once, and never quite this loud. Black Tiger didn't seem all that bothered, which kind of shocked her. Either he was that used to gunfire, or he had a way to dull the sound so as not to bother him.

“Reloading.†He said. It was all the impetus she needed.

Both heroes jumped to their feet and turned towards the hallway, running as fast as they could. Black Tiger loosed the remaining three knives he still held in his hands, disarming three of the men. He went high, she went low. He leaped into a flying knee while she performed a football style tackle, a classic mounting maneuver. The entire crowd of gunmen collapsed on themselves. She punched each man in the side of the head in quick succession, knocking each of them out. Black Tiger stood, waiting patiently as she jumped to her feet. He reached down and grabbed one of the knives he threw before they stepped towards the last door.

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He leaned back and closed his eyes for a moment. “Shouting. Five gunmen, plus the target.†He said, nodding towards her. “Two near the door, two in the back corners. Fifth adjacent to target." How he got all of that information from simply listening, she didn't understand, he'd have to teach her those tricks. He reached into his belt pouch and pulled out a cylindrical object. “Flashbang, cover your ears.†he said. Her hands went to her ears. He turned and kicked the door in. She watched as he tossed the grenade inside, and then turned away and closed her eyes. Even through her ears, the noise was loud, and even through closed eyes, the light was bright.

They ran into the room, each one grabbing one of the doormen and punching them in the head before turning and slamming them together. The disorientation would not last long, they must act quickly. They ran across the room, Crimson Tiger grabbing a lamp off of a table as they did so. She hurled it across the room, slamming into the face of the gunman standing next to a very scared, unarmed man in a suit. They each landed beside one of the thugs and delivered a short burst of punches and kicks before turning around and facing the real target.

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The knife that Black Tiger had grabbed was now millimeters away from the throat of the man.

“The Black Tiger, the relentless hunter, has come for you.†He said in an ominous, booming voice.

“D-don't kill me...†He said, shaking.

“Judgment has come, parasite.†Black Tiger growled.

“I, I'll talk, w-what do you want to know?†He began to cry, shaking.

“What bargain can save a stag from the tiger that hunts him? What offering can spare the rabbit?†The blade barely touched the man's throat. Crimson Tiger was motionless, soundless. She was inwardly shocked, and momentarily worried that her cousin wasn't the man of honor he appeared to be. She knew not to betray that worry, though, because she couldn't give any other impression than as a focused, deadly hunter.

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“I'll tell you who I work for! Please, stop...â€

“WHO?!†Black Tiger roared.

“C-Chakprii Anantasu...†He mumbled. “He's my distributor, he has the connections with the farms...please don't kill me.â€

Black Tiger slammed his hand in to the back of the man's head as he moved the knife from his throat, causing the man to collapse unconscious.

“W-what if your hand slipped?†Crimson Tiger asked.

Black Tiger grinned and sawed the knife against his arm. “Edge is dulled. Grabbed that one on purpose.†He said. “I'm a hunter, but not a killer.â€

She exhaled, relieved. It was playing dirty, but it got results. Either way, nobody would die, even if they had a few broken bones and major headaches.

They mounted their motorcycles outside, and rode home. Crimson Tiger dismounted, changed out of her costume, and put the motorcycle away. She climbed back up the wall, popped the window back open, and went to sleep.

She wondered, as she drifted off, who Chakprii Anantasu was, and how dangerous the man was. Little did she know exactly how dangerous he really was....


Continued in >Twin Tigers III: An Empire Falls

Edited by Thunder King
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